Where to buy or make costumes based on your children’s favourite book characters.
World Book Day may be a little while away, but with the Easter holidays coming up, most schools in Hong Kong are celebrating it early. So that means you need to get your craft kit out (or head to the shops) and get ready to dress your little one up in something that’s memorable, unique and (hopefully) recognisable. Luckily we’ve made it easy for you, by compiling this list of easy kids’ costumes for all ages.
Costumes for pre-schoolers
This is probably the easiest age group to cater to. They may be in their terrible twos and trying threes but they are also (comparatively) easy to distract and dress up. Plus, there are a lot of ready-made costumes available for this age, which are bound to draw oohs and ahhs from all who see them.
One of the most popular books for this age is Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell, which lends itself to a variety of possible costumes – an elephant, a giraffe, a lion (you get the idea!). You’ll easily be able to find animal costumes in any of the city’s markets, like Li Yuen Street or the Ladies Market.
Li Yuen Street (East and West), Central, Hong Kong
Ladies Market, Tung Choi Street, Mong Kok, Hong Kong
Or if you like to get your hands dirty and feel up to doing a bit of craft work with your threenager, why not make their costume yourself. Another favourite book for kids at this age is The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. An easy way to recreate said caterpillar is to colour paper plates in two different shades of green and then staple or glue together, to make a long insect body that covers the front of your child’s T-shirt (which should be green, obviously!). Let your child get involved in making antennae from pipe cleaners that you can fold and secure onto a hairband. You’ll also find plenty of inspiration on Pinterest.
If your child would much rather be the beautiful butterfly than the caterpillar, that’s also easily achieved with a bit of glittery face paint and wearable wings. Wings are a good addition to the wardrobe of your little one anyway because they are versatile enough to become part of any fairy, angel or butterfly costume.
Costumes for primary kids
For many children in Hong Kong, World Book Day is their first exposure to dressing up in school (rather than just at home). They need to bring along the book that they have chosen and be able to speak about it in front of their classmates, which can be daunting for a five-year-old. Most schools encourage a “no princesses and no superheroes” policy so it’s not just as easy as grabbing the first thing you see in the store.
This is a good age to get your kids involved in actually making their own costume. Help them work on their fine motor skills, by giving them plenty of cutting, colouring and glueing to do. Dress your child up in a white shirt and black trousers, with a black coat. Then use cardboard and red ribbons to make a top hat. Finally, use eyeliner or face paint to draw on some dramatic whiskers and you’ll have just created The Cat In The Hat.
The Gruffalo can be far more challenging. Dress your child up in brown clothing and then cut out small purple felt triangles, which you can staple or glue to the back of the clothes. Paint orange circles around your little one’s eyes, with white tusks coming out of the mouth to complete the look.
If you are pressed for time though, just hop across to Pottinger Street in Central and browse through the hundreds of costumes they have on display. With a little imagination and no tantrums from your child, you could use a witch outfit for stories ranging from The Room On The Broom to Hansel And Gretel.
Costumes for middle-schoolers
Most schools start dropping the compulsory World Book Day dress up by the time kids go to secondary school, so this might be your last opportunity to enjoy this annual bonding routine. But be warned… pleasing your pre-teen is not going to be easy!
It might be worth spending a bit of extra money on accessories and extras, to make sure the costume gets the seal of approval from your middle-schooler. You could choose to order online or pre-order from party stores like Matteo Party. They have a huge selection of costumes available, ranging from Katniss in The Hunger Games to various characters from the Harry Potter series.
While working on getting the look right, do make sure that your child has actually read and enjoyed the book on which their character is based. After all, the main purpose of this day is to instil a love of reading at the same time as having fun. So get planning and enjoy dressing up your little bookworm!
Read more: Our Top Book Picks By Age: From 4 to 14+